Spoon (photo courtesy of Matador, PR)
Spoon is a rare Texan beast. Over the course of eight studio albums and 21 years, this Austin-born band has never failed to create music that is exciting and new; a Spoon album has an unmistakable sound. The group's knack for both familiarity and subtle innovation shines brightly on their ninth release, Hot Thoughts.
Lead singer Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno are the mainstays in Spoon, driving the band since its inception in 1993. Joining them are Rob Pope and Alex Fischel: a versatile collective with Daniel, Pope, and Fischel all sharing guitar, bass and keyboard duties.
On Hot Thoughts, the surprising “WhisperI’lllistentohearit,” provides a fine example of Spoon’s abilities as arrangers and musicians. The song combines two approaches, starting with an electronic pulse that slowly builds with revving guitars. Suddenly the beat changes, the song explodes with what sounds like a new melody, but it becomes apparent that this is still the same song. It’s a clever bit of musicality that sums up Spoon's idiosyncratic style.
Hot Thoughts never settles into any one groove. The title track is a swirling rock number, with Daniels’ clipped vocals bouncing around the driving beat. “Tear It Down” possesses a vague retro-power pop mood. The beat is danceable on “First Caress” and “Shotgun." Things get funky on “Can I Sit Next To You" but more pensive on “I Ain’t The One.”
Spoon once again worked with producer Dave Fridmann on Hot Thoughts. The band had turned to Fridmann for help with their last album, 2014’s They Want My Soul, and there is no question that his experience with the Flaming Lips or Mercury Rev brought a level of sonic know-how that enhanced Spoon’s own mission for this new album.
So it's no big surprise that Hot Thoughts is a kaleidoscope of sounds and ideas. (Check out “Pink Up,” complete with its backmasked vocals.) This is something we’ve come to expect from one of rock’s most respected bands. What's fascinating is how Spoon reaches their end goal. They don’t reinvent the wheel on Hot Thoughts, but they do a neat job of shapeshifting with their usual panache.